State of medical emergency in north Angola over polio case

November 3, 2011

The northern Angolan province of Uige has declared a state of medical emergency after a 14-month-old boy tested positive for polio, which has made a resurgence in the country, UNICEF said Thursday.

The boy, who was not vaccinated, lives in Quimbele, an isolated region near the border with the (DRC) district of Popokobaka, which has had nine confirmed cases this year, the UN children's fund said.

"This shows that surveillance is working," said representative Rui Vaz in a statement.

"The new case was discovered locally, and the samples were hand-delivered, carried back after a three-day walk through the bush. The systems are clearly in place to monitor cases in even the hardest to reach areas."

After eliminating new polio cases for three years in succession following its 27-year civil war, Angola saw a strain of the crippling virus reappear in 2005.

Last year, Angola registered 33 new polio cases, the DRC 93 and Congo 50, raising concern among anti-polio campaigners, who had already considered the disease to be eradicated in all three countries.

Angola has had just five new cases this year, said, crediting a mass immunisation drive with slowing the outbreak.

The new case is the first since March and the first this year outside the southeastern province of Kuando Kubango, it said.

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